Hyundai sales hit the brakes
British energy producer BP saw its first-quarter earnings slump by 79 per cent as low gas and oil prices continued to take their toll. The company yesterday reported that its underlying replacement cost profit - the oil industry standard, which excludes nonoperational items and the value of oil inventories - dropped to $532 million, from $2.58 billion in the first quarter of 2015. Once all one-off costs and taxes are accounted for, BP reported a net loss of $583 million, compared with net income of $2.6 billion a year earlier. Still, investors appeared cheered by the results, and BP’s share price was trading 3.2 per cent higher at 372 pence in early London trading. “The jump comes after news that Q1 underlying performance - excluding a host of one-offs and extraordinary charges - was much better than expectations,” said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets. BP said yesterday that it had reduced cash costs by $4.6 billion over 2014 levels and cut organic capital expenditure to $3.9 billion in the first quarter of this year from $4.4 billion a year earlier. “Despite the challenging environment, we are driving towards our near-term goal of rebalancing BP’s cash flows,” Chief Executive Bob Dudley said. “Operational performance is strong and our work to reset costs has considerable momentum and is delivering results.” Hyundai Motor Co has reported a 12 per cent drop in its first-quarter net profit as lower sales in China, Russia and Brazil outweighed higher vehicle shipments at home and favourable foreign exchange rates. South Korea’s largest automaker said its January-March net income was 1.7 trillion won ($1.5 billion), compared with 1.91 trillion in 2015. The results were better than expected: analysts expected 1.53 trillion won, according to FactSet, a financial data provider. The company blamed weak demand in emerging markets and oil-exporting countries. But the results could reaffirm concerns about its competitiveness in China, the world’s largest auto market. Last year, the rise of Chinese local brands and Chinese consumers’ preference for sports utility vehicles over sedans took a toll on Hyundai and other foreign car makers.